As Mayor Frank Jackson barrels ahead with his plan to consolidate the city's police districts in May, the fight is getting nasty.
Under current conditions, there's only a 50-50 chance a cop will respond to your 911 call, unless you use the words "officer down." The mayor's new plan, according to union chief Steve Loomis, will simply make matters worse, since bigger districts will force officers to cover more ground.
"It defies logic to think that it won't," he says.
But Slavic Village will take the biggest hit. The 3rd District, which covers the neighborhood, has been winning rave reviews from residents, who are pleased by its vigorous warrant sweeps and crackdowns in high-crime areas. The mayor's plan dissolves the 3rd and scatters its officers throughout the city.
Loomis is also concerned about the increase in one-man patrols. This new deployment wasn't supposed to begin until tracking systems could be installed in the cars. The technology allows dispatchers to see where every car is located, keeping officers safe and reducing response times by making sure squads stay in their assigned zones.
Alas, this being the Jackson administration, the system hasn't even been purchased yet.
All of which launches the city on what Councilman Zack Reed poetically calls "a pissing expedition." Keep your raincoats handy, residents of Cleveland.
Summit's Dr. Evil
Be thankful, Cuyahoga County Democrats embarrassed by Chairman Jimmy Dimora. Though he may be a supermodel of incompetence and corruption, at least you're not living under the reign of Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, a man so evil he makes Satan tremble with delight.
Since August, state Senator Kevin Coughlin has been leading an insurrection against Arshinkoff, whose documented sins could overwhelm the New York library system. Among the highlights: He uses the party treasury as his personal expense account, orders mass firings of government workers who don't show the proper loyalty, and leads anti-gay crusades by day while frequenting leather bars by night.
So the party will soon gather at the Tangier to decide whether Arshinkoff will be replaced by Cuyahoga Falls Councilwoman Carol Klinger. But the big vote couldn't go off without a healthy dose of drama.
Klinger reserved a room at the Tangier for a reception. But when Arshinkoff caught wind, he called Ed George, the restaurant's owner, and threatened to move the vote elsewhere if the Tangier didn't cancel Klinger's reception. George, not wanting to run afoul of His Vindictiveness, was forced to tell Klinger to take her business elsewhere.
Among the insurrectionists, it's one more reason to boot the Gay Godfather. "This is just another example of Arshinkoff's heavy-handed behavior with local leaders," says former Fairlawn mayor Pete Kostoff. "This time, he's beating up a local business owner."
Bring out Your Dead
The dead-records room, on the bottom floor of the old downtown courthouse, is where Cuyahoga County files away aging legal documents on everything from divorces to tax liens. It's a thankless job for workers in this light-starved cave — one that county commissioners aren't making any easier.
Clerks spend endless hours copying files to microfilm to save space and make it simpler to retrieve documents. But over the past few years, their microfilm budget has shrunk at a rate equal to the expansion of Jimmy Dimora's waistline. Now the backlog of court files spills beyond the storage area into the hallways, where it threatens to overrun the courthouse. The garage-sale atmosphere makes the fire chief's yearly inspection all the more awkward, since it's hard to turn a blind eye to enough pulp fuel to heat Kabul for a year.
Commissioners have proposed a solution — a warehouse on Canal Street — but the notion has languished so long that employees are quick to bust out the "I'll believe it when I see it" refrain.
In the meantime, try to avoid downtown unless you're wearing your flame-retardant khakis.